STUDY OF SINGLE-EVENT EFFECTS ON DIGITAL SYSTEMS
Microelectronic devices and systems have been extensively utilized in a variety of radiation environments, ranging from the low-earth orbit to the ground level. A high-energy particle from such an environment may cause voltage/current transients, thereby inducing Single Event Effect (SEE) errors in an Integrated Circuit (IC). Ever since the first SEE error was reported in 1975, this community has made tremendous progress in investigating the mechanisms of SEE and exploring radiation tolerant techniques. However, as the IC technology advances, the existing hardening techniques have been rendered less effective because of the reduced spacing and charge sharing between devices. The Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) roadmap has identified radiation-induced soft errors as the major threat to the reliable operation of electronic systems in the future. In digital systems, hardening techniques of their core components, such as latches, logic, and clock network, need to be addressed. Two single event tolerant latch designs taking advantage of feedback transistors are presented and evaluated in both single event resilience and overhead. These feedback transistors are turned OFF in the hold mode, thereby yielding a very large resistance. This, in turn, results in a larger feedback delay and higher single event tolerance. On the other hand, these extra transistors are turned ON when the cell is in the write mode. As a result, no significant write delay is introduced. Both designs demonstrate higher upset threshold and lower cross-section when compared to the reference cells. Dynamic logic circuits have intrinsic single event issues in each stage of the operations. The worst case occurs when the output is evaluated logic high, where the pull-up networks are turned OFF. In this case, the circuit fails to recover the output by pulling the output up to the supply rail. A capacitor added to the feedback path increases the node capacitance of the output and the feedback delay, thereby increasing the single event critical charge. Another differential structure that has two differential inputs and outputs eliminates single event upset issues at the expense of an increased number of transistors. Clock networks in advanced technology nodes may cause significant errors in an IC as the devices are more sensitive to single event strikes. Clock mesh is a widely used clocking scheme in a digital system. It was fabricated in a 28nm technology and evaluated through the use of heavy ions and laser irradiation experiments. Superior resistance to radiation strikes was demonstrated during these tests. In addition to mitigating single event issues by using hardened designs, built-in current sensors can be used to detect single event induced currents in the n-well and, if implemented, subsequently execute fault correction actions. These sensors were simulated and fabricated in a 28nm CMOS process. Simulation, as well as, experimental results, substantiates the validity of this sensor design. This manifests itself as an alternative to existing hardening techniques. In conclusion, this work investigates single event effects in digital systems, especially those in deep-submicron or advanced technology nodes. New hardened latch, dynamic logic, clock, and current sensor designs have been presented and evaluated. Through the use of these designs, the single event tolerance of a digital system can be achieved at the expense of varying overhead in terms of area, power, and delay.
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
DepartmentElectrical and Computer Engineering
CommitteeSachdev, Manoj; Ko, Seok-Bum; Kasap, Safa; Dinh, Anh; Xiao, Chijin
Copyright DateAugust 2015
Single event effects
Radiation Hardening By Design